VERSAILLES, Ky. (CN) – Amazon sold a $19.95 samurai sword whose blade flew off the first time it was used, impaling a teenager through the forehead, his mother claims in a lawsuit against Amazon.com.
Sixteen-year-old Tristan Ballinger and his friend J.K. took turns throwing a plastic water bottle into the air while the other boy tried to chop the bottle in half with the sword, Nicole Ballinger says in her Monday complaint in Oldham County Court.
Another friend, Melia Sharp, filmed the game on her phone, hoping to post the video on social media.
But at some point, as J.K. was swinging the sword, the steel blade dislodged from the handle, sending the blade flying 20 feet and “effectively impaling (Tristan) through the forehead.”
Tristan suffered a serious traumatic brain injury and spent six weeks in a coma. His doctor told Louisville AM radio station WRDB that Tristan’s recovery will be “lifelong” and that he will continue to need physical and speech therapy for many years.
Tristan’s aunt, Mindy Ballinger, got the samurai sword from her supervisor as an award at an employee banquet.
The weapon, sold as the Anime Reino De Rasos Charlotte Cuulhourne Sword, was purchased from Amazon in 2012 by her supervisor, Rich Timpone, according to the complaint. Made by Georgia-based Top Swords, it was modeled after a sword wielded by a popular anime character, with a blade length of 27 inches, a rose pattern case metal guard, and a purple nylon-wrapped handle. Most of Top Swords’ swords are made in China, according to the complaint.
This one came with no safety instructions or warnings, and the blade did not extend the full length of the grip, but was held in place with rubber cement just 7 centimeters into the handle, the complaint states.
Named as defendants are Amazon.com, Melia Sharp, and “Unknown Defendants … who were acting as agents, employees, subsidiaries and affiliates of Amazon.com.”
Mindy Ballinger gave the sword to her brother, Michael Ballinger, at whose home the sword remained for several years until Tristan found it, showed it to his friends Melia and J.K., and the tragic occurred, the complaint states.
Top Sword is a defendant in a separate lawsuit filed by Tristan’s parents it in April.
In the Monday lawsuit, the Ballingers claim that Amazon should have known the product was defective and unreasonably dangerous to users.
“Amazon’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the injuries to Tristan
Ballinger,” according to the complaint.
The sword is no longer available for purchase on either Amazon or Top Sword’s website.
The Ballingers are represented by Mat Slechter in Louisville.
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.